imagine a world where the judicial system as we know has been destroyed. in its place stands a collection of data and information that is constantly scanning the emotions and tendencies of the populace in order to calculate the possibility of someone committing a crime. when someone's crime coefficient and emotional hue rises above the ordained level, they are tracked down and taken out. sometimes they are merely stunned; other times, it ends with death and blood, and occasionally...they just disappear. everyone lives on a peaceful sort of edge, coexisting in a blissful world of no crime or pain...enforced by the fear of falling short of society's rigid expectations.
until Akane Tsunemori comes along and changes everything.
if you follow me on Twitter, you know I love me some Psycho Pass. I started watching this anime in 2015, but unfortunately it got taken off of Netflix before I ever got around to finishing it. when I discovered it again, I devoured it. both seasons. its cyberpunky goodness filled a hunger within me that I didn't know existed, and it really made me want to include that genre in my writing in the near future. it also makes me cry--the story is that darn good. but it wasn't just the world or the unique premise or the rich atmosphere that made me love this show to death.
it was the characters.
Akane Tsunemori could have been anything. she had all the skills, all the potential, all the dreams. and yet, she chose potentially the hardest job she could--enforcing justice. but is it really justice that she deals out at the will of the Sibyl System, or is there something more to it? when she begins to question what her job means for both herself and everyone around her, her senior Inspector Ginoza (!!! who is my fave !!!) says to put thoughts like those out of her head and to protect her Psycho Pass at all cost, or she'll end up an Enforcer, a mere dog in the scheme of things. but one such dog makes her continue to question what it truly means to be an Inspector.
Shinya Kogami threw his blossoming career as an Inspector away by allowing his Psycho Pass to cloud, all because he had to solve the murder of one of his subordinates, no matter the cost. he resents the Sibyl System for allowing the death of his friend to go unchecked, and every day he works to find the man who is to blame for that death, the mastermind he believes is called Shogo Makashima. when he is placed under the instruction and care of a rookie Inspector, he finds her naive and clueless at first. by the time they've finished their first case, however, she's surprised him in the most unlikeliest of ways.
at the beginning of the first season, Tsunemori is a weak, confused character. she leans on Kogami and Masaoka as she figures out how to truly become an Inspector, but within the first few episodes, we see steel within her. she's determined to do the right thing and follow her sense of justice, and she wrestles with this when it doesn't align with what the Sibyl System has to say. she walks a strange path between rebellion and blind trust, and when she stumbles, no one knows where she might fall. she's a wild card--but no matter what she witnesses, no matter what horrible things she must endure, her Psycho Pass never clouds.
even when the horrible truth about the Sibyl System is revealed to her, she stays strong as an Inspector, determined to keep doing what she believes is right, even though justice is shattering around her. her development in the first season alone is beautifully done, and you can see the maturity and confidence she's gained from making her own decisions and putting her trust in truth in just her eyes. when it comes time for her to influence her own junior Inspector, she handles things much differently than Ginoza ever did--even though Shimotsuki makes similar mistakes to what she did at the beginning, although they are on opposite spectrum, she still believes that her subordinate will someday understand what the Sibyl System truly does and why it is reprehensible in the eyes of society.
in contrast to Tsunemori, Kogami is the jaded hero that most cyberpunk stories are about. he has become passive towards life after his time spent as an Enforcer, his emotions and his mind numbed, and he's changed from an Inspector intent on true justice into a dog who blindly follows the orders of Sibyl System. still, as he watches Tsunemori try her hardest to save people that everyone else has already given up on, something within him wakes up--he realizes that he doesn't have to kill innocent people just because the Sibyl System has declared them criminals. in a way, she saves him just as much as he teaches her.
when Makashima shows up and they must decide between pursuing him and obeying the government's edicts, this dangerous game of push and pull between his personal cause for justice and society's wishes sends Kogami tumbling off the edge. at the end of the series, Kogami is a fugitive--he's wanted by the Sibyl System for going rogue and trying to kill Makashima against his orders. he once was a hero, but now he's something more--he thinks that Tsunemori helped him find his way, but in reality, he's even more lost than he ever was before.
fast forward a little bit (aka a season without Kogami and a totally new--and cool--but irrelevant villain to this post. maybe I'll cry about all the reasons Kamui makes me hurt in a later blogpost. probably not. but maybe). Akane still struggles against the restrictions of the Sibyl System, especially now that it has gotten Shimotsuki to follow its orders blindly. still, things are relatively peaceful, compared to the past two seasons, until Kogami's face appears in a terrorists' memories--it seems as though he's joined the guerrilla group that is behind the influx of terrorists into Japan and the rebellion toward the Sibyl's System's colonization in the SEAUn. Tsunemori is sure that her old friend hasn't gone dark, but she hunts him down all the same, hoping to arrest him and take him home. when she finds him, however, she realizes that Kogami has changed--and not necessarily for the better.
he's become a hero again, but not because he's putting away criminals, not because he's trying to enforce justice. the guerrilla warriors and the refuges that Kogami is trying to guide and protect worship him; he's shown them the light, one of his close companions tells Tsunemori. he stands at the brink of becoming something akin to Makashima, the man that drew them together. the man who gave people the tools to destroy lives. that experience made Tsunemori who she is and tore Kogami's world apart, and yet, he's walking a narrow line between who he is and the man he could become--a man without a moral compass, or whose moral compass has disappeared throughout time.
if he gives in and takes control of the power so many people are offering him, he'll be another kind of Makashima, using the lost and confused for his "good" wishes. it's clear that not even Kogami knows what he'll choose in the end. this inner conflict continues throughout the rest of the movie, raising the question of what Kogami will become, and how will that transformation change everything?
ironically, a quote from Makashima captures Kogami's arc perfectly. power, freedom...the exact things that Makashima used to wreck havoc...they are what cause Kogami's shift from someone who believes in something to a man who is dangerously gray in his beliefs. and in the moments where he falters, we see what kind of a person he is, deep down.
|actually Makashima has a lot of really great quotes that I love, and i'm not really sure what that says about me as a person...|
I guess the most beautiful part of Psycho Pass is that the story doesn't ride completely on solving murders or even on finding out about the Sibyl System. the plot ressts entirely on Akane and Kogami's shoulders, their stories winding together to form a tale about justice and morals and pain in a painless world. even if I didn't love all the elements of cyberpunk, even if I didn't love crime related shows, even if you removed all the elements about Psycho Pass that I love so dearly, I know I would still adore this show--because for me to not love it would mean you would have to change the characters entirely. the characters tell the story, and that, in my opinion, is what drives a story home.
so make your characters flawed. make them hurt. make them ask questions about the universe that have no clear or peaceful answer. make me root for them, cry for them, hate them and love them at the same time. when you do that, you are making a story. a beautiful story told from and about people as real as life.
that, my dear friends, is good story telling.
( psst. you should watch Psycho Pass and cry about it with me. just saying. I know about -5 people who have watched this show, and it is an INJUSTICE. you can watch the Japanese dub with English subtitles HERE, or if you want to shell out six bucks for an okay English dub, you can find that HERE. just go watch the thing. you won't regret it.
|I'm too far gone, guys. come join me in the madness.|
also--do it for Ginoza and Masaoka. they make me cry. especially Ginoza's development as a character. but that's a blogpost for another day. )
have a great week y'all! let me know if you plan on checking this wonderful, wonderful show out! <3
(none of these gifs belong to me)